Duncan, Sir Patrick

Patrick Duncan

b. 21 Dec 1870, Fortrie, Banffshire, Scotland, U.K.
d. 17 Jul 1943, Pretoria, South Africa

Title: Governor-General of the Union of South Africa :: Goewerneur-Generaal van die Unie van Suid-Afrika
Term: 5 Apr 1937 - 17 Jul 1943
Chronology: 22 Mar 1937, appointed by Commission under the Royal Sign Manual and Signet of the Union of South Africa [1]
  5 Apr 1937, took an oath of allegiance and an oath of office as Governor-General of the Union of South Africa, Cape Town [2]
  17 Jul 1943, died [3]
Names/titles: Sir Patrick Duncan (from 5 Feb 1937, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George) [4]
Second son of a crofter; attended the King Edward parish school and George Watson college, Edinburgh; proceeded to the University of Edinburgh as a bursar, obtaining a first-class degree in classics (1889); continued his studies at Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained a Master of Arts degree in classics (1891); entered the Inner Temple, London, and wrote his law examinations in 1893; joined the department of inland revenue (1893); was appointed the private secretary to Sir Alfred Milner who served as chairman of the board of inland revenue; after the appointment of Milner as High Commissioner for South Africa and Administrator of the Orange River Colony and of the Transvaal, he joined him in Africa in 1901; was made colonial secretary for the Transvaal (1903-1907); served as a member (ex officio) of the Legislative Council of the Transvaal; acted as Lieutenant Governor in 1906; resumed his studies in England and was admitted to the bar in 1907; on his return to South Africa, he practised law in Johannesburg and joined the Progressive Party; a supporter of the closer union between the four South African colonies, he contributed to the founding of the Union of South Africa in 1910; was elected a member of the House of Assembly for Fordsburg (1910-1920), representing the Unionist Party; resigned his membership in the Unionist Party in 1914, joined the South African Party (SAP) in 1920; was returned unopposed for the Johannesburg constituency of Yeoville (1921) and took a seat in the House of Assembly; served as minister of internal affairs, education and public health (1921-1924) in the cabinet of Jan Smuts; on the death of Sir Thomas Smartt (1929), he became second-in-command of the SAP (from 1934 United Party), sometimes acting as party leader; served as minister of mines and industry (1933-1936) in the cabinet of J. B. M. Hertzog; appointed Governor-General of the Union of South Africa (5 Apr 1937 - 17 Jul 1943), being the first South African to hold the highest office in the country; appointed to serve a member of the U.K. Privy Council (11 May 1937); when Hertzog was defeated in the war crisis of 1939, he refused the Prime Minister's request to dissolve Parliament and order a general election, and instead called upon Smuts, as the leader of the largest group in Parliament, to form a war cabinet.
Biographical sources: "Dictionary of South African Biography", ed. by W.J. de Kock, D.W. Krüger (et al.) (Pretoria: Nasional Boekhandel Bpk. for National Council for Social Research, Dept. of Higher Education, 1968-1987), 5 vols; obituaries: Rand Daily Mail, 19 Jul 1943, pp. 3-4; The Times, No. 49,601, Late London Edition, 19 Jul 1943, pp. 4, 6.

[1] Government Gazette, No. 2427, Extra, 5 Apr 1937, p. 2.
[2] Government Gazette, No. 2427, Extra, 5 Apr 1937, p. (1).
[3] Rand Daily Mail, 19 Jul 1943, pp. 3-4.
[4] London Gazette, No. 34369, 9 Feb 1937, p. 888.